I'm currently putting together a new computer and can not seem to settle on a motherboard, by virtue of the fact that there are some really good options out there right now. Two questions tend to scream out at me and are really hampering the process, despite all of my attempted research. So I figure I'll let the people with firsthand experience and better technical knowledge offer some insight.
Let me start with the relevant specs so far before I go into personal use/tastes.
Core i7 2600K
- CoolerMaster Hyper 212+/Evo
4GB PC1600 DDR3 RAM x4
Nvidia GTX 580
Asus Xonar Essence ST (PCI Slot)
2TB HDD x2
CoolerMaster HAF 932 Advanced
(Down the road I may go SLI and/or pick up the Asus Xonar H6, so I'm future-proofing for that.)
Beyond general use, gaming and video work make up my time on the computer.
The video work leads to me believe the Z68 chipset would be a good move for the QuickSync abilities. However [Question #1] given most of my video capture is going to be gameplay capture (it's an easy source for brushing up on my editing abilities, two birds-one stone ), I do wonder if the chipset will kick in during capture and start competing with the discrete GPU for disastrous results on both sides, especially if capturing at a different resolution like some software offers (not the best video quality practice, but still a theoretical point).
The Asus board's PCI lane sharing is pretty annoying. Is the review on Tom's correct about the layout? I may be able to live with that, as I don't see myself populating that slot, and the second PCIe x1 will be covered by the GPU.
The ASRock board seems very nicely capable, but I do worry about the chipset heatsink and the lower VPM. I'm looking to use this rig to break into overclocking, as the Sandy Bridges seem pretty good about it. Nothing outrageous, but I'd like to hit the 4.5-4.8Ghz area. The massive GPU card (possibly two down the road) going right over that block heatsink scares me though, not to mention the lower VPM count.
The Gigabye board seems really great. The software for fan control and the like seems sub par compared to the other two, but I figure something like RivaTuner can remedy that. The only thing that does bother me is the lack of two SATAIII ports compared to the other two boards. And here is where I hit another big thing I can't seem to track down: [Question #2] How bad are the Marvell controllers? It seems like it would be pointless to hook my optical drives in them, as I'd lose them as boot drives. Are they purely for storage drives that the user doesn't care as much about?